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Good morning from Albany where One-House Budget Proposals from the Senate and Assembly are expected early this week. The Governor has received public pushback on some of the proposals in her Executive Budget including her plan to expand housing, lifting NYC’s Charter School cap, an MTA payroll tax, a future ban on new natural gas hook-ups, and perhaps most contentiously, further changes to bail laws.
Over the past couple of weeks Hochul has gotten some outside help in responding to that criticism and promoting her Executive Budget Proposal, especially some of the more controversial parts. A group called American Opportunity—which shares an address with the Democratic Governor’s Association in Washington D.C.—launched a collection of digital ads titled “Every Opportunity”“Safe Communities”, and “Home”. The goal is to mobilize the public and sway enough members of both Majority Conferences—where many members have expressed strong opposition to parts of Hochul’s agenda. 

Here is a more detailed look at what to watch for in the Assembly and Senate One-House Proposals:
  • Crime—While Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie and Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins have been circumspect over the past few weeks on the Governor’s proposals (judicial discretion or to roll back parts of bail reform depending on your point of view), expect the Legislative One House Budgets to reject the proposal on bail. 
  • Charter Schools—The Executive Budget included a proposal to lift the cap on the number of charter schools in New York City. It has been reported that the Legislature will not include that proposal in their one-house budgets. Nonetheless, both houses are happy, broadly, with Hochul’s full funding of Foundation Aid. 
  • Health & Medicaid—Big questions remain on how both Houses of the Legislature will respond to major proposals on Health and Medicaid. 
  • Taxes & Revenue—The Governor did not include much in the way of tax increases or revenue raisers, aside from a few targeted proposals, in her Executive Budget. Many progressives in both Assembly and Senate Conferences are pushing hard to include more revenue raisers, including a Billionaire’s Tax. Expect to see these. 
  • Minimum Wage—While the Governor’s proposal included a minimum wage hike. The key question is how much farther will both Houses of the Legislature go in their increases? And, how much faster will their proposed timelines be for the increases? 
  • Labor—As we discussed at the beginning of February, the Executive Budget was light on Labor provisions and priorities. It remains to be seen what specifically the Legislative One Houses will contain. However, you can expect discussion on just transition for decommissioned energy projects across the State, prevailing wage clarity around future renewable energy projects and labor provisions for other green initiatives like Zero Emissions Vehicle procurements, as well as broader clarity on other prevailing wage for other public works projects across the State.

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Will we have an on time budget?
Our Jack O’Donnell on crunch time in Albany… and the gas ban backlash.

In parallel to the center-left struggles we are seeing play out between Hochul and the Legislature, last week State Democratic Party Chair Jay Jacobs offered a spirited defense of his leadership and continued to take aim at the progressive wing of the party, especially with New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams and House Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. The fiery interview on last week’s Brian Lehrer Show underscores the larger fight for the soul of the Democratic Party taking place in the context of the budget process.
Amid the budget crunch, the Hochul Administration is undergoing a number of staffing changes. Former Acting Budget Director Sandra Beattie is leaving the administration as is Rajiv Rao, Deputy Chief Information Officer for Technology and Chief Technology Officer at the Office of Information Technology Services (ITS). 
They are the subject of a probe from the Inspector General’s Office as to whether they followed proper procurement guidelines when awarding state contracts. One of the deals under scrutiny was the handling of the procurement for the Excelsior Pass, the digital vaccine verification app, which was not publicly bid. A spokesperson for the Governor offered “As she’s said from day one, Gov. Hochul is committed to restoring trust in government, when concerns were raised, we immediately referred them to the inspector general.” 
The probe explains why Beattie was passed over for the full-time job and the timing of Hochul’s decision to replace her with Bob Megna in the thick of the budget process. While the probe hardly classifies as a scandal by Albany standards, it is another nagging ethics issue for Hochul who has tried to make restoring trust in government a key priority following the scandal-ridden Cuomo administration. 
    New York City is celebrating the arrival of new train cars for the city’s A-line. The new train was inaugurated on Friday by MTA CEO Janno Lieber who pointed out that the old cars had “lived through eight presidential administrations.” The upgrades are part of the larger effort to modernize New York City’s subways and the broader public transit system.  
      To commemorate the 20-year anniversary of New York City’s 311 information service being active, Mayor Eric Adams read some of his favorite questions the number has received: 
      • “Can you check if my boyfriend is married?”
      • “If there is a law limiting how many times you can flush the toilet?”
      • “I’d like to report a ghost in my window.”
      • “Can I claim my dog as a dependent on my taxes 
      1. I’d like to file a noise complaint against my refrigerator. (2004)
      2. Can you tell me the steps for boiling a live chicken? (2005)
      3. A raccoon is eating lasagna on my porch. (2014)
      4. I’d like to report my neighbor for waving to everyone on the block. (2018)
      5. A goat is tied to the stairwell in my building. (2016)

        It is officially budget and appropriations season in Washington, D.C. as well with President Biden having released his plan for the fiscal year this past week. Here are some of the highlights of the President’s plan:

      • Cuts Taxes for Families with Children and American Workers
      • The plan would expand the Child Tax Credit from $2,000 per child to $3,000 per child for children six years old and above, and to $3,600 per child for children under six. The Budget would also permanently reform the credit to make it fully refundable. 
      • Lowers Health Care Costs
      • The plan would make permanent the average $800 per year premium cuts through expanded premium tax credits that the Inflation Reduction Act extended. 
      • Reduces Prescription Drug Costs for All Americans
      • The Budget includes proposals to curb inflation in prescription drug prices and cap the prices of insulin products at $35 for a monthly prescription.  
      • Makes Historic Investments in Innovation and Cutting-Edge Research
      • The Budget provides almost $21 billion in discretionary spending for CHIPS and Science Act-authorized activities
      This year will be significantly more difficult for Biden than the first two of his Administration, as he will have to contend with the new House Republican Majority. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy called Biden’s proposal “completely unserious” and the political reality is that little if any of the President’s budget will get enacted as written after negotiating with Congress. The House Freedom Caucus, the powerful and ultraconservative wing of the GOP conference, released its own set of demands that must be met before they even negotiate on raising the debt ceiling. Among their priorities  are: 
      • Curtailing burdensome regulations by requiring congressional approval under the REINS Act
      • Unleashing the production of reliable domestic energy by ending federal regulations and subsidies;
      • Restoring Clinton-era work requirements on welfare programs; and
      • Passing a pre-emptive Continuing Resolution with non-defense discretionary spending restored to the pre-COVID FY2019 level to force Congress to pass appropriations in a timely manner.
      Florida Governor Ron DeSantis was in Iowa this past week under the guise of promoting his new book. DeSantis has all but formally announced his bid for the 2024 Republic nomination for President and the stop in Iowa, the first state to vote in the GOP primary process, is seen as the latest sign that his campaign is ramping up. DeSantis was testing potential campaign messages while touting his accomplishments in Florida, saying “I think we really have done a great job of drawing a line in the sand and saying the purpose of our schools is to educate kids, not indoctrinate them” and later to a different crowd, “We will never surrender to the woke mob. Our state is where the woke mob goes to die.” 
      While DeSantis has enjoyed a meteoric rise in the GOP, it is still very much Donald Trump’s party. Trump leads DeSantis in a head-to-head matchup in nearly every major poll and the presence of other candidates to split the “anti-Trump” vote will also likely help the former President’s chances. 


      And finally… A major food service company is dropping coconut milk from Thailand over concerns of forced labor from our genetically similar relatives in the animal kingdom. Expect legislation banning the practice to drop in New York shortly.
      -Jack O’Donnell 



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      New to the NYS Legislature  

      Assembly Member Lester Chang was elected to the New York State Assembly on November 8, 2022 in a major upset of Democrat Peter Abbate, who had been in the Assembly for 36 years. The Southern Brooklyn 49th Assembly District covers parts of Borough Park, Dyker Heights, and Bensonhurst. Despite controversy surrounding his residency that arose after his victory, Assembly Democrats ultimately decided to allow Assembly Member Chang to join the Assembly in January.

      Assembly Member Chang, born in America to Chinese immigrant parents who came in pursuit of the American Dream, grew up on Eldridge Street in the Lower East Side of Manhattan. He is the proud product of New York’s public education system and has attended public school through his master’s degree. After graduating high school, he began studying at Brooklyn College to pursue a career in banking and finance. Eventually, he earned his master’s degree in International Transportation from SUNY Maritime College and started a career in logistics.

      Assembly Member Chang served in the Navy Reserve and New York Naval Militia. He is a war veteran and served a tour in Afghanistan and has 20 years management experience in global trade and logistics. In March of 2020, Assembly Member Chang volunteered to return to active duty in support of COVID Operation, where he helped convert the Jacob Javits Convention Center into a field hospital that treated more than 1,000 COVID patients. Additionally, he has worked with the Board of Elections as a Poll Site Coordinator for more than 30 years.

      Assembly Member Chang is committed to serving New Yorkers as they try to earn a living, raise their families, educate their children, and live in a safe, secure environment. He will support more charter schools, fewer business regulations, compassion for the homeless, and respect the needs of all New Yorkers.

      While serving in the Legislature, Assembly Member Chang will fight to reduce rampant crime, fix broken bail and parole laws, support law enforcement, lift the charter school cap, stop mandated curriculum for private schools, and provide meaningful, substantive support services for the homeless, veterans, and incarcerated individuals transitioning back to society.







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